Thursday, September 4, 2014

Wondrous Words Wednesday 23

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Kathy at the Bermuda Onion where you "can share new words that you’ve encountered or spotlight words you love. Feel free to get creative!

Classes have started at the college and school has started for the kids so that past couple of weeks have been nuts. I have been doing lots of reading but in a pretty incoherent way.  I really have to pull together some reviews soon. And now as a special added bonus - none of the equipment in my lab is working. ARGH!  

So, anyhow, the words this week are a totally mixed bag ...

The folletti tended the fire, the goblins mopped up, ...

folletti plural of folletto masculine
imp, goblin, fairy; especially : a supernatural being who is a survival in popular form of an ancient Etruscan or Roman deity
Origin: Italian, from Old Italian, from Old French folet fool, goblin, from fol foolish, mad

Portrait of a sprite made ​​by professional designer Godo .

You don't throw out the car just because you've run over an echidna

Also sometimes known as spiny anteaters, they are monotremes - i.e. egg-laying mammals. The four extant species of echidna, along with the platypus, are the only surviving egg-laying mammals in the world. They are native to Australia and New Guinea. Their diet consists of ants and termites but they are not related to the anteaters found in the Americas.

short-beaked echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus)

I knew this one but was totally blanking on it when I read this sentence in the middle of the night. Something about it made my brain go boink.

Here are a couple of good videos for a better look:

Which makes me think of a nice weird song by They Might Be Giants ... Mammal ! (Warning - the camera work here is dreadful so if you get motion sickness from unsteady video don't watch this. It's too bad because the art is great and they wrote out the lyrics for you!)

... giving it calcium tablets and oiling its cloacal vents every four hours.

cloaca [kloh-ey-kuh]
zoological anatomical term

1a: a cloaca is the posterior opening that serves as the single generative canal for the intestinal, reproductive, and urinary tracts of certain animal species. All amphibians, birds, reptiles, and monotremes possess this singular orifice, from which they excrete both urine and feces, unlike most placental mammals, which possess two or three separate orifices for evacuation.

1b:  a comparable chamber of an invertebrate 

2: a sewer, especially an ancient sewer.

Aren't you glad you know ? I will take mercy on us all and not provide a picture of a chicken's rear end here. But this is kinda cool ... for certain values of the word cool ... The Cloaca Maxima !

Map of central Rome during the time of the Roman Empire, showing Cloaca Maxima in red

Constructed in Ancient Rome, the Cloaca Maxima is one of the world's earliest sewage systems.  It was constructed to drain local marshes and remove the waste of the populous, carrying the effluent to the River Tiber. The name literally means Greatest Sewer. The red line near the center of the image shows the location of the Cloaca Maxima. Here is a cool article about it

... and a pine marten with a broken foot, who would happily eaten any of the other patients if he could catch them. 

pine marten
Pine martens are small mammals - about the size of a cat - with bushy tails and large paws. They usually live in wooded areas - forest or taiga. They have small rounded,  sensitive ears and sharp teeth. They eat small mammals, birds, insects, frogs, and carrion. They have also been known to eat berries, bird's eggs, meat, nuts and honey. Martens belong to the mustelid family, which also includes mink, otter, badger, wolverine and weasel.

There are European and American pine martens, as well as a Newfoundland subspecies. Plus there appear to be several other martens around the world. Ack - genus Martes is polyphyletic, which is cladistics term that means the species in this genus have a similar appearance but do not share a common ancestor. Messy.

Martens are the only mustelids with semi-retractable claws which enables them to lead semi-arboreal lifestyles, such as climbing or running on tree branches. They are mainly active at night and dusk.
American Pine Marten

European Pine Marten

Newfoundland Pine Marten
Very cute and probably more than happy to bite your fingers off. 

1 comment:

  1. I love your words :-)
    BTW, I admire people who can blog/review books when they have so much going on in their lives. I waited until my baby was in college and even now it's hard to find the time to review. Of course, now the grandchildren are coming :-)


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